DC Reads expands into Southeast with Project 2000

GW students who volunteer for the popular outreach group DC Reads are expanding their tutoring services in an effort to increase children’s literacy throughout the District. The GW program, which involves work-study students and volunteers, added two new programs this year, including one in Southeast D.C.

Volunteers with Project 2000, located in Southeast, tutor children elementary and high school students. The other new program, The Sarah House, is for middle and high school students in Northwest’s Shaw community.

The first group of students who were tutored by Project 2000 graduated from high school last year – many with college scholarships. GW was so impressed with the success of Project 2000 that it decided to lend a hand in the program’s future, said Sean Kelly, GW coordinator of DC Reads.

We hope to help (Project 2000) expand, Kelly said. We are looking for students who are excited to work with kids.

Southeast neighborhood residents had worried that their neighborhoods were not being served by the DC Reads program. That concern influenced GW’s decision to include Project 2000, Kelly said. GW was happy to respond and build programs in the community, Kelly said.

DC Reads is based in GW’s Office of Community Service, which is located in Marvin Center room 436. Before this year’s expansion, DC Reads operated at five sites around Northwest and Northeast D.C.

Several universities across the District are involved with DC Reads, but GW and Georgetown have the most participants, Kelly said.

Recent changes to the program include adding math to the tutoring curriculum last year, Kelly said.

Junior Charisse Green, who began volunteering with DC Reads her freshman year, said she has enjoyed the program. She spends many hours a week working with first graders through the Communities in Schools program, which covers three District schools.

Green said she originally participated because she wanted to be outside of school and help kids at the same time.

I think it’s very important to make the community aware of what’s going on, Green said.

DC Reads began when President Bill Clinton issued a challenge to universities to increase literacy among children. The president’s charge, known as the America Reads Challenge, brought DC Reads to GW in 1996.

The program gives student volunteers the opportunity to use their own creativity in planning lessons and field trips. The idea is to help students who read below grade level to work up to a standard on par with their classmates. Student volunteers commit to working about five to 12 hours a week, Kelly said.

Since its beginning four years ago, the program has attracted an increasing number of tutors. This year the Office of Community Service expects 200 GW students to assist District students with the program’s mission of assisting students with new skills, Kelly said.

Students tutor children from pre-school to high school individually or in small groups. By the end of the year, Kelly said volunteers get to know the students well.

Volunteers said the program provides a unique leadership experience.

It was a good outlet away from school and they look at us and see what they can be, Green said. It is nice to be able to see a result.

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